Classical music and diversity: a talk for the Nordic Association of Orchestral Managers conference

In September 2022 I spoke at the Nordic Association of Orchestral Managers conference in Reykjavik (sadly, over Zoom rather than in person) about diversity in classical music. I’ve posted my talk below.

**

Thank you for inviting me. My background is as a classical musician who has become an academic. As a musician, I worked with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Wellington Sinfonia, but late retrained as a sociologist and have been combining my specialisms to try and understand some of the challenges around diversity in classical music. I’m going to focus my comments primarily on the workforce, and who plays classical music, but I think this is important because who plays classical music also influences audiences.

To start off, I want to think back to the 19th century. As I’m now based in the UK, I’ll use the UK context as an example, but in many other European countries there are similarities in the ways in which classical music was institutionalised. When I say institutionalised, I mean the 19th century was the era when, for the most part, institutions such as orchestras and conservatoires were established. This history is important for understanding where we’ve got to today, and the patterns of inclusion and exclusion that we have inherited, because these institutions were set up by the middle and upper classes of the time. In some cases they were set up with the purpose of creating a space within the city where the bourgeoisie could come together. In others, they were set up to as a tool to ‘improve’ working-class people. On the whole, however, they were set up by the middle classes, for the middle classes, and to varying degrees in different cities, there was an implicit purpose of keeping out working-class people. In other cases such as some music education institutions, there was an implicit purpose to “civilise” the working-classes through the discipline of ‘good’ quality music – and sometimes, in the UK, to make a profit from doing this.

Continue reading “Classical music and diversity: a talk for the Nordic Association of Orchestral Managers conference”
Classical music and diversity: a talk for the Nordic Association of Orchestral Managers conference

New article: reflecting on carrying out surveys on gender-based violence in UK HE

A recent Women and Equalities select committee hearing on gender-based violence in universities involved a discussion of what evidence is available on this issue, and what the role of surveys should be in providing this evidence. Serendipitously, this was just after myself, Louise Livesey and Marian Duggan had published an article on this very topic, ‘Researching Students’ Experiences of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harassment: Reflections and Recommendations from Surveys of Three UK HEIs’ in the journal Social Sciences, for a special issue edited by Vanita Sundaram and Pam Alldred on methods for researching gender-based violence. It reflects on our methods as well as the politics and governance of surveying gender-based violence in UK universities based on our experiences of carrying out such surveys within three different institutions.

Continue reading “New article: reflecting on carrying out surveys on gender-based violence in UK HE”
New article: reflecting on carrying out surveys on gender-based violence in UK HE

Power relations in Higher Music Education – expert paper

I was delighted to be asked to deliver an expert paper to the Power Relations in Higher Music Education (PRiHME) network. PRIhME is a strategic partnership of 9 institutions who examine the issue of power relations in the higher music education (HME) sector, funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme.

They have agreed to allow me to share the paper publicly. You can download it here. The paper draws on my research as well as wider work in the field from Rosie Perkins, Geoff Baker, and Christina Scharff, among others, to introduce the concepts of power relations and hierarchies in higher music education institutions. It then explores how these intersect with social inequalities and are reproduced through invisible practices. Finally, it outlines challenges and ways forward for addressing them.

Many thanks to David-Emil Wickstroem and all his colleagues in the PriHME for their important work and for inviting me to be involved in the conversation.

Power relations in Higher Music Education – expert paper

Research update: staff sexual misconduct articles

The four articles outlined below give you an overview of my peer-reviewed research on staff sexual harassment in UK higher education, mostly co-authored with Tiffany Page.

The articles all report on data from the same study, originally summarised in the public report ‘Silencing Students: Institutional Responses to Staff Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education’. The data drawn on for the report and these articles is interviews with 15 students and 1 early career academic in UK higher education who had reported or attempted to report sexual harassment/violence from a member of academic staff to their university or the police. Interviews were carried out in early 2018. This is important to note as many universities have been making changes to their processes since then, and so the findings in the fourth article may need to be updated drawing on ongoing data collection I am doing, along with Erin Shannon, for the ESRC-funded research project Higher Education After MeToo (currently underway).

The articles cover (1) ‘grooming’ and boundary-blurring behaviours 2) why people report staff sexual misconduct to their universities (3) an overview of our recommendations for changes to complaints and disciplinary processes, and (4) what happens at the end of the complaints process. Read on for a summary of each. As always, if you don’t have access and there isn’t a pre-publication version here, email me anna.bull@york.ac.uk for a copy.

Continue reading “Research update: staff sexual misconduct articles”
Research update: staff sexual misconduct articles

Classical music as genre

I’m delighted that my co-authored article with Christina Scharff, ‘Classical music as genre: Hierarchies of value within freelance classical musicians’ discourse’ has been published, open access, by the European Journal of Cultural Studies. Christina and I started thinking about this article as a result of an invitation to the Copenhagen Workshop on Genres in June 2018, hosted by Ana Alacovska and Dave O’Brien. Ana and Dave then invited us to submit an article to a special issue on the sociology of genre. While Christina and I had already written extensively about classical music and inequalities, one of the concerns that I had come across during this work was thinking about how to delineate classical music as an object of study, and how to justify our terminology of ‘classical music’ against the until-recent dominance in musicology of the term ‘Western Art Music’. In my book, Class, Control, and Classical Music, I included a short defence of my use of the term ‘classical music’, as well as drawing on Laudan Nooshin’s critique of the term ‘Western Art Music’. I argued that ‘classical music’ was the vernacular term the young musicians in my study used, and it denotes a recognisable phenomenon within everyday discourse.

Continue reading “Classical music as genre”
Classical music as genre

New project: Youth Voice in Classical Music Education

2020 has been such a whirlwind that I have hardly had a minute to catch up with what’s going on myself, let alone post any updates on here. But one of the exciting things that has happened – or rather, that is going to happen in 2021 – is that I will be working on a new project on music education. I’ve been in discussion with the wonderful Jenn Raven at music education charity Sound Connections for some years, after she spoke (brilliantly) at one of the events I organised on music education and abuse at The Purcell School in 2017. After one unsuccessful funding bid, I am delighted that our second bid was successful. We are being funded by new music education charity Agrigento to run a project called ‘The Music Lab‘. This is a small-scale action research project that will be working with young classical musicians at Lewisham Music Hub (who run a Saturday music school in south London) to explore what youth voice might mean in classical music instrumental tuition. We have been having some initial discussions with Lewisham Music Hub who I am really excited to be working with as we share the same goals and ideals about what needs to change in classical music education. We have appointed a music facilitator – the dynamic and hugely experienced Isabella Mayne – and a youth worker – the equally brilliant Jacob Sakil – to work with us on this project. I was especially keen to have a youth worker on board as I know that classical music education could learn a lot from youth work practices, and I hope this project will be part of this learning.

We were hoping to start the project in January but the pandemic has scuppered our plans, so we are now planning to start in April. We aim to produce a toolkit that will be disseminated to music education Hubs across the UK as we know there is a lot of interest currently in how to adapt music education pedagogies to reflect youth voice principles. I can’t wait to get started but like so many other projects, we are now dependent on what happens with the pandemic as we really want to do this project face-to-face rather than remotely. I will post any updates as we receive them.

New project: Youth Voice in Classical Music Education

New article: Discrimination in the complaints process

With Tiffany Page and Georgina Calvert-Lee, I have published a short article in journal Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education outlining the key points of our Sector Guidance on sexual misconduct complaints processes in higher education.

I’m sorry about the paywall – it should be available on my university publications site in a pre-publication version soon, but if you’d like to read it and don’t have access please email me on anna.bull@port.ac.uk for a copy.

New article: Discrimination in the complaints process

The first reviews of my book!

I’m delighted that the first academic reviews of my book are now out. One is in the European Journal of Cultural Studies. It’s written by Professor Mark Banks, now at Glasgow University, and you can read the full text here.

The second is here, in cultural policy journal Cultural Trends, by Andrew Pinnock from Southampton University.

In addition, I did an interview for academic content site Faculti about the book, which you can listen to here.

The first reviews of my book!

Class, Control, and Classical Music awarded prize

I am delighted to have been jointly awarded the Philip Abrams Memorial prize by the British Sociological Association for my book Class, Control, and Classical Music. This prize is for the best first sole-authored book within the discipline of sociology and needless to say it’s a huge honour to be joint winner. This is in fact the first prize I’ve ever won for doing sociology, which makes it particularly special, and the recognition helps to make the many years of work that went into this book feel even more worthwhile.

You can listen to a short interview with one of the prize judges, Richard Waller, with me about the book here. The prize was also awarded to Owen Abbott for his book The Self, Relational Sociology and Morality in Practice, which looks great and I can’t wait to read it. There were some fantastic books nominated and all 20 of them look worth reading. One that I’ve already read is Ali Meghji’s Black Middle Class Britannia, which I would highly recommend – a hugely important book looking at high cultural consumption among Black middle-class people in London, which is essential reading for understanding intersections of race and class in the UK.

Class, Control, and Classical Music awarded prize